Chinese clones of Facebook, Twitter gain popularity in China

Beijing: As social networking websites Facebook and Twitter stand banned in China, their indigenous versions have hooked millions of Chinese users., translated in English as the `happy network` is China`s Facebook-style website that already has about 90 million users.

Then there is Twitter`s Chinese clone Weibo which is used by 40 million people, a media report in the official news agency said today.

"I start my day of work by reading the latest web postings from my friends," said Cecilia Jiao, 27, a news editor in Beijing said.

"I`m used to it, just like many others," she told state run Xinhua news agency.

These websites are increasingly popular in China, where many of the nation`s 420 million "netizens" embrace social media as a trendy way to interact with friends and keep up on the day`s news, the report said.

Facebook and Twitter cannot be accessed in China as the government has not permitted their use fearing they would spread easily among the net savvy youth and may pose a potential political threat to the one party system. has netted 90 million users by September since it began in 2008 and the figure is increasing by 100,000 per day.

The sites have attracted not only ordinary individuals but also celebrities and institutions, and even one influential mainstream media organisation.

China Xinhua News Network Corporation (CNC), the recently-launched global television news network of China`s official news agency, in June became the first organisation to set up an official account on

The 40 million users of Weibo include some of China`s most famous movie stars and public figures.

"Microbloggers can do live reporting from the scene, which lowers the threshold for taking part in news reporting," Tsinghua University journalism professor Jin Jianbin said.

In late August, a violent attack on a popular Chinese science writer, Fang Zhouzi, who is known for exposing academic fraud, caused an online uproar when Fang made it public on his Sina Weibo microblog.

A Sina survey following the incident showed that 92 per cent of 39,123 online respondents supported the writer.

In fact, the social network sites are so popular that the ruling Communist Party has started training its cadre to
make use of them.

Officials are taught how to use microblogs, blogs and instant messaging software, the report said.

Beijing police officially launched their microblog "Safe Beijing" in August to release information concerning public security and to receive suggestions from the public.